Alaska imports more than 95% of its food. That dependence comes with risks as well; the average grocery store only has enough food for three days. At the Sitka Conservation Society, we are working to create a more resilient and flexible food system. We are supporting local efforts to protect the habitat of wild foods, supporting traditional harvest/subsistence lifestyles, increasing local food production, and creating access to wild foods. To increase awareness of the natural pantry surrounding us, SCS has reformed the school lunch program to include local foods, especially fish. While the Tongass National Forest has long been seen as a timber resource, it is time for the forest and our oceans to also be recognized for the abundance of food they provide.
Salmon are a pillar of life in Southeast Alaska. They are essential to the ecosystem of the rainforest, and they drive the culture and economy of this region. The life cycles of salmon are intricately woven into the life of the Tongass. The salmon the habitat of the rainforest to survive, while the people and the rainforest in turn need the salmon to survive.
As the ninth largest seafood port in the country, Sitka is swimming with fish. Our students should have access to this nutritious, local food that drives our economy and supports our community. Fish lunches are served twice a month at Sitka's schools along with "stream to plate" lessons in fish life cycles, commercial harvesting, and the processing and distribution that ultimately bring the fish to our dinner tables.
The annual Sitka Conservation Society Wild Foods Potluck celebrates the abundance of wild local foods in the Sitka area. As with all the best potlucks, it also gives the community a chance to share and showcase an incredible variety of dishes. The food is only surpassed by the stories, as potluckers eagerly recount their favorite hunts or give others tips about hard-to-reach blueberry patches.